Rule #1 of nursing and pumping: You just keep pumping.
No matter how defeated you feel, and no matter how panicked you get that you’re losing your entire supply and this is the end, you just keep pumping. (Unless weaning is your goal, in which case this post is not for you.)
I’ve been there SO many times. Having made it to 9 months of nursing and pumping with baby #2, I have a checklist I run through whenever I see a slight dip now.
As I work through the checklist/troubleshooting, I reassure myself that supplies were not destroyed in a single day. One of the following always seems to tip the scales again.
- Am I eating and drinking enough? You need calories and hydration to keep the milk flowing. It’s easy to let that slip when things get busy.
- Have I been keeping up with my pumping schedule? If not, it’s time to get back on track and keep on pumping!
- Do any of my parts need replacing? Remember, duckbills need to be replaced every 2-3 months, and back-flow protectors every 3-4 months. I tend to go on the low end of these estimates just to be safe.
- Do I need to size down (or up) a flange size? I didn’t realize how important this was until baby #2.
- Am I putting baby to breast whenever I can? I realize this is different for everyone, but if possible it helps as baby works better than a pump (barring any oral motor issues).
- Am I power pumping? If I haven’t done that in a while, maybe it’s time to try again. 20 minutes pumping, 10 minutes resting, 10 minutes pumping, 10 minutes resting, 10 minutes pumping. Try this several days in a row, ideally in the morning, and see what happens?
- Is my pump still working correctly? Any weird noises? Has it been dropped? I know some IBCLCs can check pumps to see if they’re still performing as they should, although I’ve personally never tried this.
- Have ingested anything that might have affected my supply? Large quantities of peppermint, too much caffeine, or some sinus medications immediately come to mind. Think back through your diet and do some Googling if you’re not sure.
- Have I stopped ingesting something that’s a known galactagogue? If I always consumed electrolyte drinks, supplements, oatmeal, etc., the absence might be slightly affecting my supply if it’s something my body got used to. This shouldn’t make or break it, but it might be the difference in a couple ounces.
- Am I stressed? I know there’s only so much of that we can control, but some relaxing music, meditation, or extra snuggles with baby might help.
The bottom line? Just keep pumping. And again. And again. If everything checks out, you should be able to bounce back. Trust me – I lost count of the number of times I thought we were on the decline over the past 9 months; and yet, here we are!